Analysis | Protecting Taiwan sovereignty, democracy key arguments in Tsai reelection

President Tsai Ing-speaks at the Presidential Office Building. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was elected to a second four-year term Saturday with a strong mandate to further protect Taiwan sovereignty and democracy.

The Democratic Progressive Party hopeful won by a wide margin over her main competitor, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang, after running a successful campaign that caught national and international attention.

On the topic of sovereignty, she denounced China in a timely discourse that met voters’ expectations, arguing that Taiwan should never be “the next Hong Kong.”

The Hong Kong protests further undermined local voters’ support for the “one-country, two-systems” framework Beijing has championed for governing both the former British colony and Taiwan.

President Tsai’s policies were also in line with Taiwan’s biggest ally, the United States, which is fighting against China’s alleged unfair trade policies with a trade war.

Against this backdrop, she received unexpected support from Washington in the form of procurement budgets that were suddenly approved in the weeks prior to the election.

Meanwhile, President Tsai strongly advocated for protecting Taiwan’s democracy by fighting Chinese alleged influence in society – and local media in particular – with the swift approval of an Anti-Infiltration Law.

According to the ruling party, the new law seeks to plug legal loopholes by blocking Chinese forces from making illegal political donations, spreading misinformation, staging campaign events, or otherwise interfering in elections and the business of government.

Opponents argue, however, that the law could threaten anyone with dealings in China, including the hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese people who chose to work, live and study on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

Last but not least, President Tsai benefited from a revamp of her public image that used memes, animation and social media to reach young voters. Observers have credited the strategy with playing an important role in boosting Tsai’s approval ratings.

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